How to Clean Copper with Acetone

Copper utensils hanging on a rack.
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 5-10
What You'll Need
Cotton, cloth or rag
Rubber gloves
Masking tape
Water and soap

There is one method on how to clean copper that will surely be effective if other methods prove to be ineffective. Sometimes, copper stains are very difficult to remove using traditional methods such as using ketchup, vinegar or salt. For tough to clean copper stains, using acetone is recommended. Acetone is usually used as a component for nail polish removal products. However, its use is not limited. It can also work as a stain removal product for metals. Here is how to clean copper with acetone.

Step 1 – Preparation

Make sure that the working area does not have any plastics. Acetone is known to dissolve certain types of plastics. When cleaning copper materials that contain some plastic, remove the plastic if possible or use a masking tape to cover the plastic. Protect the hands using rubber gloves before applying acetone on the affected area. Open the windows or door for proper air circulation. The fumes of acetone may irritate the nasal cavities so check if there is enough ventilation inside the room.

Step 2 – Rub the Acetone on the Affected Area

Take a cotton ball, a cloth or rag and place a liberal amount of acetone on it. Use it to rub the copper stains off the surfaces of the metal. The acetone will dissolve any stain or oxidized residue to reveal a smooth and glossy surface. Do not rub the copper in a random direction. Wipe uniformly alternating from left to right or in an upwards and downwards motion. It is important to apply light pressure when rubbing the copper. As soon as the stain is removed, stop rubbing.

Step 3 – Dip the Copper Ware into the Acetone

To remove stains from hard to reach areas in a copper ware, it is best to dip the whole material into the solvent. First of all, wash the copper ware with water and soap to remove any debris. Pour acetone into a container enough to submerge the copper ware completely. Do not use a plastic container as it may be dissolved. A glass container is best because it makes the copper ware visible from the outside. Place the entire copper product into the solvent and leave it there for an hour or two. Leave it for a longer period of time if the stain is harder to remove. Remove the copper material from the container and wash it with clean water and soap.

Step 4 – Polish the Copper

After cleaning the copper with water and soap, use a clean cloth to polish the surfaces of the metal until a glossy surface is revealed. Make sure not to apply too much pressure on the metal since it is very soft as compared to other types of metal. Afterwards, wash the cloth or rags used with water and detergent to remove any trace of acetone left.